Winston, in a statement released on Thursday afternoon, acknowledged the league told him he would miss three games.
Tampa's former No. 1 overall pick also apologized to the Uber driver from the incident in question and claimed he has gone sober. Or, at least, "eliminated alcohol from my life."
"First and foremost, I would like to say I'm sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in," Winston said in a statement released to NFL Media. "It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize. In the past 2 1/2 years my life has been filled with experiences, opportunities and events that have helped me grow, mature and learn, including the fact that I have eliminated alcohol from my life."
The league said in its findings that Winston touched "the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent" and gave the quarterback a three-game suspension. According to the NFL's domestic violence policy, Winston should face a suspension of six games.
"I know I have to hold myself to a higher standard on and off the field and that I have a responsibility to my family, community, and teammates to live above the platform with which God has blessed me," Winston continued. "I apologize to my teammates, the Buccaneers organization and fans for letting them down and for not being able to be out there for the first three games of the season. Although I am disappointed in the NFL's decision, I understand the NFL's process, and I embrace this as an opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to help me achieve the goals that I have for myself."
According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Media, the three-game suspension was a negotiated settlement. It's not the first time the NFL has veered from its policy of suspending all violators for six games.
Among players who were suspended less than 6 games for accusations of violence against women or sexual assault since the NFL announced its "6-game first offense" policy: Josh Brown, Quincy Enunwa, Andrew Quarless, Junior Galette, Jonathan Dwyer, Joseph Randle. Now Jameis Winston.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) June 28, 2018
Winston can face an additional suspension per the NFL's announcement, should he fail to cooperate with the league on having a clinical evaluation and undergoing therapy.
"As part of the discipline, Winston is also required to obtain a clinical evaluation and fully cooperate in any recommended program of therapeutic intervention," the league said in its statement. "A failure either to obtain the evaluation or to cooperate with treatment will result in further discipline. In addition, a future violation of the Personal Conduct Policy will result in more substantial discipline, including a potential ban from the NFL."
The suspension becoming official means the Buccaneers now turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick for their first three games of the year, and boy are those three games a tough stretch for Tampa.
The Bucs open in New Orleans against the Saints, and were 7-point underdogs before Winston was suspended. They should be somewhere between 10- and 14-point dogs now. After that, they draw the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles at home and then the Steelers at home.
Going 1-2 would be a pretty impressive achievement, although you can arguethe Bucs chance of making a playoff run.
Tampa is firmly on the hot seat as an organization, though, with Dirk Koetter coaching for his job this season and GM Jason Licht, who drafted Winston first overall, needing a big season out of the Buccaneers to remain in his position.
As good as this offseason has gone for them, with a lot of strong defensive additions, it is quickly being derailed.